Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 4 Hansard (26 March) . .
Discussion of matter of public importance
MADAM SPEAKER: I have received letters from Dr Bourke, Mr Doszpot, Ms Fitzharris, Mr Hanson, Ms Lawder, Ms Porter and Mr Smyth proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, I have determined that the matter proposed by Ms Lawder be submitted to the Assembly, namely:
The importance of genuine urban renewal in the ACT.
MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (3.29): I am pleased to speak on this today, because heaven forbid that a day would go past when we did not speak about urban renewal. It has been on the agenda all of this year, and I did not want the day to go past without us talking about it. Mentioning the term "urban renewal" at least 50 times is the challenge we have before us in this MPI today.
The challenge facing city, state and federal governments is about how to renew and revitalise existing urban areas, both to better make use of underproductive land and to create a city that truly reflects the needs and demands of city residents and businesses. Urban renewal is therefore about renewing and maintaining existing infrastructure such as local shops and streets, not just about building a light rail tram that only a minority of Canberrans will be able to use.
As a local member, I receive my fair share of complaints about development and things like densification, but in some ways this is the answer, not the problem, as people also want to be close to amenities, employment hubs, fitness facilities, restaurants and cafes and, indeed, transport. That is why our town centres are so deserving of renewal and so important to the everyday Canberran. I could, for example, make special mention of the Tuggeranong town centre, which, unlike some department heads, I think would make a fine place for the Department of Finance to relocate to.
One of the problems facing urban renewal projects in the ACT and people who want to do things to improve our infrastructure is that the territory plan is very long and complicated. It is 2,500 pages. The excessive charges levied by this government stifle development—for example, the lease variation charge and extension of time fees. Developers cite these unnecessarily large charges all the time when they talk about development. They do not take into account the changing financial environment in which people work all the time. Things like variation 306 about solar access and boundary setback provisions restrict what we can do. They often lead to absurd and unanticipated outcomes and make life more and more difficult for people down the line.
The government seems to have one rule for most developers and the average Canberran and another for itself. We see that happening at the University of Canberra, for example, where it is bypassing planning laws all the time, often to the detriment of other players in the market.
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